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 Elections for a mayor to run the Sheffield City Region have been postponed following a court ruling about a flawed consultation process.

Voters were expected to choose an elected mayor for South Yorkshire and parts of the north of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire for the first time in May under a devolution package announced by then chancellor George Osborne in 2015.

The deal, which followed a similar agreement in Greater Manchester, was agreed to give Sheffield and its surrounding region greater freedom to boost growth, improve skills in the area and tackle the most difficult to help welfare claimants.

It also meant £900 million of extra funding.

But Derbyshire County Council took a challenge to the High Court which agreed that people in Chesterfield had not been properly consulted over the move.

On Thursday, the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority said it could not deliver the revised consultation programme for Chesterfield in time for May elections.

In a statement, it said: ” Local leaders of the combined authority have now had an opportunity to consider the High Court judgment and its implications on the Sheffield City Region Devolution Deal and the mayoral geography.

“On the advice of the combined authority’s managing director and legal officer it is now not possible to hold a mayoral election in May 2017. The combined authority is now working towards a mayoral election in May 2018.

“To this end, the combined authority is drawing up fresh plans to consult on its proposals, with a view to satisfying the requirements of the High Court judgment.”

The postponement of the election is likely to reignite the debate over the future of devolution in Yorkshire, including calls for a single elected mayor for whole region.

Leader of Barnsley Council, Sir Stephen Houghton, and Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said in joint statement: “Following the recent judicial review it is clear that further consultation work is required on the current Sheffield City Region devolution proposal and we are pleased that, in view of this, Sheffield City Region leaders have agreed to request the deferment of a regional mayoral election from May 2017.

“Sheffield City Region has also received an outline proposal from West Yorkshire for a whole Yorkshire devolution option.

“We remain committed to working economically across the Sheffield City Region and achieving our ambitious plans for job creation and economic growth.

“However, we have always said that we wish to secure the best possible devolution deal for Barnsley and Doncaster.

“We will therefore work with colleagues to explore this new Yorkshire-wide option, to ensure we give all potential devolution solutions proper consideration, so that residents can be fully informed when being asked to participate in consultation over the summer months, and that devolution delivers the best possible outcomes for local residents and businesses.”

When Mr Osborne visited Sheffield to sign the deal in October 2015, he said the city was “forging ahead in the northern powerhouse”.

“It has the power to change the shape of local government in the region in a way that would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago,” he added.

“For local people, it will mean the decisions that affect them being taken locally.

“Manchester is not a one-off – far from it. In becoming the second great northern city to sign up to managing its own affairs with this ambitious agreement, Sheffield City Region is playing a vital part in helping to build the northern powerhouse.”

Source: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/elections-for-mayor-to-run-sheffield-city-region-postponed-amid-consultation-row-1-8331807

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